Gov. Jerry Brown fired up the crowd Saturday night as he addressed several hundred delegates attending the United Farm Workers’ 2016 Constitutional Convention at a the Rabobank Convention Center in Bakersfield.
“Tonight we have someone very special among us,” said UFW president Arturo Rodriguez in Spanish as he introduced Brown to the audience.
Brown spoke to UFW farm workers during a dinner to honor the service of farm workers leaders at union contract companies.
During his speech, Brown recall meeting Cesar Chavez in 1967 near Calexico, adding that from all the farm leaders Chavez was successful in organizing the farmers when many farm leaders tried before him and failed.
Brown said Chavez’s courage is that it is needed to organize America.
He said many states have passed laws that are very hostile for the rights of workers to organize.
Brown said the Republican-controlled Congress is “totally committed to weakening organized labor.”
“This war against workers will be lost totally if Mr. Trump ever gets elected. So we’ve got to make sure that it never happens.” Brown said, as the crowd cheered in agreement with him.
Brown added that in the list of potential Supreme Court nominees by Trump, “not one of the names that he listed so far is a friend of organized labor.”
“You have to have the law and the labor rights to protect your interest and your families,” Brown said. “In California, while things are not perfect, (the laws for farm workers) are better than in other states in the county.”
Brown said not only California has improve the minimum wage of workers, it has also provided health care for undocumented children living in the state.
Brown said “the leaders of Congress are one step above cave men” as those leaders don’t believe in climate change, labor rights, and don’t believe in the 11 million people who live in America undocumented.
“And then there’s Donald Trump,” Brown said as a chorus of boos could be hear in the arena. “He wants Mexico to build a wall. If Trump is elected — which he won’t be — I’ll build a wall to keep him out of California.”
Brown urged those in attendance to elect a president and a governor who understand what organized labor is, as well to put their strength together in solidarity to make things happen.
“Government can help but the most important thing is for workers to have the power to defend their own rights,” Brown said, making a big emphasis about the importance of the next presidential election and what is a stake, “your union, the environment, health care. So many things are at stake in this presidential election.”
He called for unity among democrats to win.
“One way or another, si se puede,” Brown said.
Rodriguez said UFW has known Brown for 44 years and has worked with him in many different projects including an agricultural law that allows the union the right to organized in the state, law that was signed by Brown in 1975, during his first term as governor in California.
“Governor Brown always has done what he thinks is the best for the farm workers and we are grateful that he is with us today at this convention to honor all of you tonight,” Rodriguez said to the crowd in Spanish.
Brown received a replica of the United Farm Workers’ Aztec eagle after addressing the UFW convention delegates Saturday night.
After speaking at the UFW’s convention, Brown spoke to a group of reporters waiting for him.
When asked about the state’s primary election coming up on June 7, Brown said “I don’t think anybody should be seeking the Democratic nomination with a scorched earth policy.”
“At the end of the day, we’ve all got to work together,” Brown told reporters. “It’s very important that we beat Donald Trump.”
The convention continues Sunday at Bakersfield’s Rabobank Arena, with former President Bill Clinton scheduled to make an appearance to address delegates during the last day of the UFW convention.
Editor’s note: Check Vida en el Valle’s Facebook page for Gov. Jerry Brown’s live coverage video of Saturday’s UFW’s dinner on May 21.